Containers 101: What is container technology, what is Kubernetes and why do you need them?

What are containers?

Containers make it possible, regardless of the operating system or infrastructure environment, for an application to run continuously and efficiently. Containers do this by pooling all the code, runtime, system resources, system libraries and settings that a service requires to run, providing a lightweight, standalone, executable kit

What is a container used for?

In addition to technologies such as DevOps, cloud-native, AI and deep learning, containers reflect the future of computing. Cases of common use include:

  • Cloud modernization of current systems
  • Build new apps that leverage the advantages of containers
  • Isolating microservices and distributed applications, launching, scaling and maintaining them
  • Improving the efficiency/efficiency of DevOps through streamlined build/test/deployment
  • Providing stable development environments for developers, separated from other applications and processes
  • Simplifying and speeding up repeated roles
  • Facilitating hybrid and multicloud computing environments, as containers can work regularly anywhere

What is containerization?

Containerization, the act of developing a container, means pulling out and abstracting from the operating system and the underlying infrastructure only the application/service you need to run, along with its dependencies and configuration. It is then possible to run the resulting container picture on any container platform.

What are the benefits of containers?

  • Containers are lightweight: Compared to virtual machines, containers are powerful and light on resources since they are separated from the OS layer.
  • Containers are portable: you can write once and switch between environments since the container contains all of the dependencies and configurations.
  • Containers are scalable: because of their small size, containers spin up quickly, scale on the fly, spin down when not in use and restart quickly when needed.
  • Containers can be cost-effective: Containers provide a solution that is resilient, fast-paced and cost-effective through reduced resource requirements and smart scaling.
  • Containers need fewer infrastructure to be managed: Containers force you to get to the nuts and bolts of what you really need, to provide your clients with an experience that better fits them. This makes it easy to handle infrastructure, since there is less infrastructure to manage.
  • Containers allow focus: IT teams spend less time on guest operating systems and physical hardware, allowing them to participate in important business ventures.
  • Containers accelerate growth: Containers provide a stable, predictable environment in which CPU/memory is optimized and portability infrastructure code is abstracted.
  • Containers unlock modern architecture: developers can split applications into microservices using containers, which can speed up development and be scaled separately when deployed.

What are the challenges of containers?

  • Containers are relatively new: in 2014, Kubernetes was first launched and quickly gained market adoption. Being a “hot tech” will make finding seasoned technologists who know how to function in containerized environments difficult.
  • Not all services are containerized: If your application depends on non-containerized services, you can need to spend heavily to convert it into a solution for containers.
  • Containers need improvements in processes and skills: Containers can speed up the transition to more agile, productive development, but this can mean drastic changes to the current processes of development, implementation, analysis and monitoring. Similarly, it may be appropriate to change and retrain current teams.
  • The technology is rapidly evolving: this is not unique to containers, but the fast-paced nature of container technology means that you need people on hand (or partners) to make sound decisions, minimize risk and ensure that organizational inertia does not stymie implementation.
  • Containers are not a silver bullet: a list of advantages and containers which look perfect, but serious thinking is required for any transformation. You have to consider what you have to deal with, what’s going to work and what’s not going to work with, or find someone to assist you through it.

Related Topics to Kubernetes

Containers vs. virtual machines

Containers and virtual machines are both “packages.” A container is a package that includes your application and everything it needs to run, aside from the operating system. A virtual machine is a package that includes your application and everything it needs to run, including the operating system itself.

On a single operating system, you can run multiple containers. And, on a single piece of hardware, you can run several virtual machines. On virtual machines, you can also run containers.

One big advantage containers have over virtual machines is that, since they don’t include the operating system, containers need less system resources and less overhead. They also tend to start/stop more easily and are ultra-portable across environments. However, when they’re idle, they also take up infrastructure power, which can run up unnecessary costs.

Docker vs. Kubernetes

Docker technology makes it possible to build and operate containers, and what constitutes a “container” is the industry standard. Kubernetes (abbreviated as k8s) enables all of your containerized workloads, including provisioning, networking, load balancing, securing and scaling, to be handled (or “orchestrated”).

Docker can be run standalone without Kubernetes, but Kubernetes cannot function without a container service like Docker.

As of 2021, Docker has essentially all of the containerization space’s market share. In the industry, there are several competing Kubernetes products, with self-managed Kubernetes deployed in 50 percent of StackRox surveyed businesses. Kubernetes (50 percent), Amazon EKS (44 percent), Azure AKS (31 percent), RedHat OpenShift (22 percent) and Amazon ECS are self-managed in the top five (20 percent ).

What is container orchestration?

Container orchestration may not be sufficient if you have just a handful of containers and two or three applications. But things get complicated as the numbers rise. Container orchestration from Kubernetes allows the automated deployment, scale and management of thousands of containerized applications.

Benefits of Kubernetes container orchestration include:

  • Discovery of Resources and Load Balancing
  • Mount storage structures of your choosing automatically
  • Automated rollbacks and rollouts
  • Optimal resource utilization
  • Kubernetes self-healing (restart failed containers; destroy those not responding to user-defined health checks)
  • Store confidential details and handle it
  • Deploy and upgrade settings without having to restore container images

What are the main container tools and technologies?

The major names in container space are Docker and Kubernetes. Docker is an open source framework for containers. The most common container orchestration option is Kubernetes, although alternatives exist, such as Docker Swarm and VMware Tanzu. Containers as a service (CaaS) products are also provided by major cloud providers, including AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure.

When are containers the best option and when should you consider something different?

If you are designing a new application from scratch, looking to incorporate a microservices-based architecture, or looking for an ultra-portable, build-once-deploy-anywhere solution, containers are a great choice. But what about the monolithic, current applications?

Much like certain physical machines do not translate to virtual machines, there may not be good containerization candidates for applications that need a lot of resources. You’d need to split up how it operates to make a CPU and RAM hungry program into a jar. For little or no gain, this would entail development time and cash and would therefore not be justified.

Container solutions from Rackspace Technology

The Rackspace Technology experts have considerable experience in architecting and designing technologies for containerization platforms. Using the container orchestration framework that will provide you with the most value, through Kubernetes, DockerSwarm and Rancher, and cloud-native tools such as ECS, EKS, AKS and GKE, we take an agnostic approach.

In coclusion, there are experts will work closely with you from the beginning of your containerization project to understand your application architecture. Finally, design and develop a full container solution that incorporates networking, volumes, computing resources, and more. Start today with your containerization journey.

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